New law "On Organs of State Security" has taken effect
This is the information provided by Radio Liberty. The human rights activists and the opposition have already referred to this law as "another stepping stone" to a totalitarian Stalinist-type system. However, the Chamber of Representatives think that the new version of the law meets the contemporary threats and Belarus acts in the mainstream of the world's tendency. What is this law going to change in the life of Belarusians?
The new version of the law "On Organs of State Security" gives broader powers to the operative services. Now they can enter a person's place or any (even foreign) organization's office without the procurator's office sanction. The procurator's permission is not necessary at all, informing the procurator within 24 hours of the entry necessitated by operative reasons will do. "If we find nothing, we'll offer our apologies", answered the former KGB chair Leanid Ieryn to the question asked by the journalists about how the agents will be punished in the event of a mistake.
Another important innovation of the law is the right of the special service to implant its secret agents into any organization. A person disclosing the identity of a secret agent will be criminally persecuted under the law. The punishment is up to 5 years in prison. The one who makes public a state secret will be imprisoned for the same term…
The law has been in force for over a week now. I asked Lieutenant General Mechyslau Hryb, an opposition leader and the former speaker of the Supreme Soviet, whether he had felt the action of this law. Mr. Hryb is sure that his telephone has been tapped for a long time, and the special service may break into the apartment easily. (Hryb: ) "I do not rule out such a possibility. This is an easy thing to do, because my apartment is guarded by police officers of the security department of the Ministry of Interior who will not find it hard to find common language with the special service. They may come to see something or check something. So far, however, I have not been able to catch anyone red-handed".
Mechyslau Hryb is particularly against the provision allowing the organs of state security to unrestrictedly enter apartments. Mechyslau Hryb is sure this will lead to abuse, violate people's right to privacy of their own housing, and contribute to reinforcing political reprisals in the country.
According to Mechyslau Hryb, in the mid-1990s, when he was head of the national security commission in the Supreme Soviet of the 12th convocation, the special services also made attempts to broaden their rights at the expense of the citizens' rights, but this attack failed. The former deputy recalls how this was done: "We were free people, though the parliament was largely red, but we were a great power (347 people), everyone understood there should be no organization uncontrolled by anyone. And so we made appropriate laws".